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J Bacteriol. 2004 Nov;186(22):7549-55.

Staphylococcus aureus AgrA binding to the RNAIII-agr regulatory region.

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Southern Regional Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1100 Robert E. Lee Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70124, USA.


The control of virulence gene expression in the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus is under the partial control of the two-component quorum-sensing system encoded by genes of the agr locus. The product of the agrA gene has been shown by amino acid sequence similarity to be the putative response regulator; however, binding of AgrA to promoters under its control has not yet been demonstrated. In this study, we isolated and purified soluble AgrA by expression under osmotic shock conditions and ion-exchange chromatography. Purified AgrA showed high-affinity binding to the RNAIII-agr intergenic region by electrophoretic mobility shift assays. Binding was localized by DNase I protection assays to a pair of direct repeats in the P2 and P3 promoter regions of the agr locus. We found that this binding was enhanced by the addition of the small phosphoryl donor, acetyl phosphate. The difference in binding affinity between these two promoters was found to result from a 2-bp difference between the downstream direct repeats of the P2 and P3 sites. Mutation of these base pairs in the P3 site to match those found in the P2 site increased the affinity of AgrA for the P3 site relative to that for the P2 site. These results are consistent with the function of AgrA as a response regulator with recognition sites in the promoter regions of RNAIII and the agr locus.

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